Every week, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce collects and shares helpful COVID-19 news and emergency relief funding updates in our eWeekly newsletter. Here are the important take-aways we published for the week of October 26/2020:

Province of Manitoba Updates

  • With the growing number of cases in the Northern health region and Churchill, the province has introduced targeted measures under the Restricted (orange) level of the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System to reduce close-prolonged contact between people. These measures came into effect at midnight, October 26, for a minimum of two weeks. The restrictions are the same as those in place in the Winnipeg Metro Region. For complete information, view our pandemic guide.
  • Additional measures have been put in place for schools in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region and the Northern health region under the Restricted Level, effective October 26. For more information, visit: www.manitoba.ca/covid19/restartmb/prs/winnipeg/index.html#wmr_schools. Here is a summary:
    • K-8 students may be offered temporary remote learning for the duration of the Restricted level (orange) to create additional space, where required.
    • Blended learning (in-class and online) for grades 9 to 12 where distancing cannot be achieved will continue as per status quo.
    • Schools must ensure two meters of physical distancing to the greatest extent possible, and adjust classroom space as necessary; excess furniture must be removed from classrooms to create additional space; other spaces within schools must be repurposed to accommodate more distancing (e.g., multipurpose rooms, empty rooms, shared spaces, common areas, and libraries).
    • Extracurricular activities are only permitted if all learning and distancing requirements have been met. If these activities continue, established guidelines must be followed and, in the case of sports, participants should maintain distance when not active.
    • Teachers and staff who move across cohorts of students, including substitute teachers, are required to wear medical masks. Medical-grade disposable masks have been issued to all schools. N95 masks are not required.
    • Indoor choir and the use of wind instruments are not permitted.
    • All field trips must be postponed or cancelled.
    • All other public health measures are still in effect.
  • The Province of Manitoba announced that it plans to introduce amendments to the Employment Standards Code so more workers can take protected leave due to the COVID-19 pandemic and apply for federal benefits. The federal program came in to effect Sept. 27 and Manitoba’s legislation would be retroactive to that date. Amendments to the provincial code are necessary to close gaps between Manitoba’s existing protected leave provisions and the new federal program, and ensure all Manitoba workers eligible for the new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) are protected if they take a leave of absence from their job to access the benefits.
  • The Province’s new scheduling system for COVID-19 test appointments is up and running, and has been expanded to several sites in rural and northern MB. If you have symptoms, call 1-855-268-4318 (toll-free) or go online to book a COVID-19 test at www.manitoba.ca/covid19/updates/testing.html#appointment.
  • In conjunction with Doctors Manitoba, the Province is enabling community family doctors to provide after-hours COVID-19 testing to bring testing closer to home for Manitoba families. The first clinic, which can be booked directly online through their website, is located at the Dakota Medical Clinic in Winnipeg.

Federal Government Updates

  • During his October 26 address to Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM attendees, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced improvements to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) requirements and deadlines:
    • As of Oct. 26, 2020, eligible CDN businesses currently operating through a personal bank account are now eligible to apply for CEBA.
    • Applicants have until Dec. 31, 2020, to apply.
    • CEBA support is being expanded from $40K to $60K. This expansion will be available to all eligible previous and new CEBA applicants. Stay tuned to the CEBA website for more details, including launch details in the coming weeks.
  • The Prime Minister also alluded to improvements coming to the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP), and confirmed that CERS (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy) will be retroactive to October 1, 2020 and may be able to cover up to 90% of rent covered for the hardest hit businesses.
  • The second period of the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) application process is now open. This benefit is designed to provide income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. For info and to apply, click here.
  • If your business has experienced a decline in revenues, you may wish to re-examine the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which consists of a base subsidy for all employers whose revenues have been impacted by the pandemic, as well as a top-up subsidy for employers that are hardest hit. The government has proposed that the base subsidy rate for Sept. 27 to Oct. 24, 2020 continue to apply from Oct. 25 to Dec. 19, 2020. As such, the maximum base subsidy rate would be set at 40 per cent for this period, and the max top-up subsidy rate would remain at 25 per cent.